Sustainability family living tips

The topic of the environmental damage is becoming hotter by the day, further elevating the sense of dread and nervousness experienced by adults and increasingly by children too. All the more the reason read more

Summer scrubbing with Skin and Tonic

Summer wakes up our mind and senses and calls for some gentle action when it comes to the care we give to our body – something that we often leave on the back burner, unlike our skincare. Conveniently, British beauty brand Skin and Tonic just launched it’s first bodycare product – a Sea Salt Body Scrub – and I have been putting it to ‘vigorous’ use.

The scrub arrived in a chic silver sealable pouch, which makes it easy to use in the shower or bath and is practical to take with you on your travels or a holiday. Blending together sustainably harvested, mineral-rich Atlantic sea salt with certified organic bergamot, spearmint and rose oil, it makes a lovely first impression, but will it stand the rigorous efficiency test?

Some information about the ingredients, to start with:

Irish Sea Salt

The team has worked hard to source sustainably harvested, non-oxidised sea salt. Due to its sealed extraction from deep currents in the Atlantic Ocean, it contains lots of rich minerals and micronutrients that help to eliminate toxins and hydrate the skin.

Bergamot Oil

This beautiful, certified organic bergamot oil is cold-pressed from the rind of the fruit. Grown mainly in Southern Italy, this sweet, fresh citrus oil is widely used in perfumery. Fun fact: It takes 1,500kg of bergamot to produce 1 kilo of oil!

Rose Oil

Luxurious Rose Centifolia flower oil helps to even skin tone and balance skin moisture levels, whilst soothing away anxiety. Did you know rose is a natural anti-depressant? Nurture and nourishment for both body and soul

Spearmint Oil

Milder than peppermint, this antibacterial oil enlivens and invigorates the skin, helping to stimulate circulation. Spearmint’s fresh aroma will also help to clear headaches and de-stress the mind.

List of ingredients:

Sodium chloride (sea salt), Vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil*, Citrus aurantium bergamia (bergamot) fruit oil*, Mentha spicata (spearmint) leaf oil*, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (almond) oil*, Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower oil*, Rose centifolia (rose) flower extract

*= Certified Organic



How to use:

  1. Massage onto clean

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Eco chic beauty: Botanika Box by Alice and White

The popularity of beauty boxes, in all shapes & sizes, doesn’t seem to be subsiding, but few deliver the ‘wow’ factor that lingers in the atmosphere, as you continue trialling or using the products. One such service is provided by a Swedish-based retailer, Alice and White, which opened its doors for business in 2011. Company’s founder Lona Darouze-Kemi champions natural & organic niche skincare brands. Lona was the first retailer to offer British beauty brands Bodhi & Birch, as well as Aurelia to the Nordic customers & now sells many niche brands from around the world, some now famous, other remaining under the radar, but worthy of attention & carefully & thoughtfully curated by Lona, providing her customers with products that deliver results, as well as pleasure.

Earlier this year Lona offered to send me one of her popular Botanika eco chic boxes (the information about how you can get one for yourself will be at the end of the post) & after talking to her & finding many personal & professional commonalities, I was excited to try a trio of Nordic brands, one familiar (Henne Organics), the other two (True Organic of Sweden (all you need is me) & Body Bazaar) completely new to me. Lona certainly impressed me with her knowledge, as well as the carefully curated selection of brands & products that she offers to her clients, online & in-store, in Stockholm & shipping to European countries, including UK. Well, for now at least.

It certainly is a challenging time for a small independent retailer, like Alice & White, when competition comes from all sides, including Amazon & big retail chains, like Finnish Ruohonjuuri, expanding their outreach to a relatively small market in Sweden. However, Alice & White is more niche & selective with the brands they take on, while other retailers go for mass market eco brands.

Life of an entrepreneur can often be overwhelming, particularly when work hours become unlimited & work takes over weekends as well, leading to late nights & mailbox overloads. Customers don’t see that, instead they expect 24/7 communication, pronto. What Lona prides herself on, is listening to customer feedback & stocking the brands that customers want, as well as those that she discovers & trusts to deliver up to high expectations.

I haven’t head the pleasure yet of visiting Alice & White showroom, conveniently located in central Stockholm, but browsing the website gave me a pretty accurate idea of the type of retailer that the company is. In an ideal world Lona would love to sell brands sourced locally, but for now it remains a dream. Instead, she sets her search outreach far & wide, looking for intriguing indie brands, recently adding Tata Harper & Josh Rosebrook to her quality green beauty brand list. It is a conscious choice to represent possibly more expensive, often hand-made & artisanal ranges though, building up awareness & appreciation of that beauty segment of the market among more people.

Now, to the brands & products that were sent to me…

Henne Organics Nordic Berries Lip Exfoliator, 10ml

Founded in 2015 by Laura Xiao, the brand was created out of necessity really. When Laura moved from snowy Stockholm to arid Las Vegas, she ended up combining the practical knowledge & experience of living in the harsh desert & cold climate conditions. Cold & heat both produce an accumulated negative impact on your skin, particularly your lips. Being an active proponent of organic lifestyle, Laura wanted to create a balm that will sooth, soften & nurture her chronically dry lips, as at the time she couldn’t find a natural product to satisfy this need.

Laura launched her brand with just one product, the now ‘cult’ Luxury Lip Balm, which contained just seven ingredients, including avocado oil, beeswax & shea butter. Now, in addition to lip balms (choose from a stick or the one encased in a pot), you can also buy lip tints (four shades) & exfoliators (choose from lavender mint, rose diamonds or nordic berries flavours).

”Think about it: When you put something on your lips, you’re going to ingest some of it. If you use conventional lip products, you’re ingesting an insane number of chemicals.” Laura Xiao

Organic sugar cane crystals are the prime ingredient in Henné Lip Exfoliators, Laura’s second beauty creation under the umbrella of her brand.  Combined with coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, Vitamin E, Jojoba seed oil, Raspberry fruit seed & Vanilla flavour, sugar crystals gently scrub away flaky skin & residual lipstick, softening the lips in the process. I have been testing Nordic Berries, which Laura said were inspired by Swedish nature. This exfoliator is as effective in colder months, as it is nurturing in warmer ones – I use it in the morning or evening, depending on my needs & the process of gentle exfoliation allows for a lovely pause, as well as naturally brings some natural colour back to the lips.

Laura’s embrace of Swedish nature — as well as the country’s eco-friendly sensibility & minimalist design read more